Holland becomes latest European country to impose burqa ban

Holland has become the latest nation to impose a ban on “face-covering clothing” such as the burqa and niqab.

The new Dutch law is a partial ban, meaning it only applies on public transport and in public buildings but not on the street, nor does it outlaw the hijab, which covers only the hair.

Far-right politician Geert Wilders has pushed for the ban for over a decade, however studies suggest only a few hundred women in the Netherlands wear niqabs or full-face burqas, leading many to brand the law unnecessary.

Far-right politician Geert Wilders, who recently spoke at a Tommy Robinson rally in London, has pushed for the ban for over a decade. Credit: AP

The ban, which is described by the Dutch government as "religion neutral", also covers ski masks and full-face helmets.

Other European countries including Belgium, France, Denmark and Austria have all already taken steps to outlaw face veils.

  • Belgium

Belgium was one of the first European countries to outlaw the Burqa. Credit: AP

"I am proud that Belgium would be the first country in Europe which dares to legislate on this sensitive matter," declared centre-right politician Denis Ducarme in 2010 after the country voted to impose a ban on full face veils in public.

The Brussels federal parliament voted on the ban unanimously however the law did not come unto effect until July 2011, making France the first country to adopt the controversial policy.

Punishment for wearing full-face veils in Belgium ranges from a fine to imprisonment however the latter is reserved for repeat offenders.

  • France

Several French seaside towns have banned the burkini from their beaches. Credit: PA

France passed its face-veil law three months before Belgium, with President Nicolas Sarkozy saying they were "not welcome" in the country.

Since the law was passed in April 2011 there have been several challenges to it in court however the ban is still largely in place and women can be subject to 150 euro fines if they are found to have covered their face.

In 2016 many seaside towns in France imposed a so-called burkini ban that stopped Muslim women from wearing the Islam-specific swimwear.

  • Austria

Anyone found to be covering their face in full in Austria can be fined up to 150 euros (£134). Credit: PA

Austria's coalition government agreed in January 2017 to ban the full-face veil in public spaces including courts and schools. The law came into place in October of the same year.

Legislators said the full-face veil was an obstacle to "open communication", which it said was necessary for an "open society" however it was estimated that only between 100 and 150 women wear the full-face veil in Austria.

Those found to be violating the law can can be fined up to 150 euros (£134).

  • Denmark

Danish politicians voted 75-30 for the ban, with 74 abstentions. Credit: PA

Earlier this year Danish MPs chose, in an overwhelming vote, to outlaw garments which cover the face, including the niqab and burqa.

The law allows people to cover their face when there is a "recognisable purpose" like cold weather or complying with other legal requirements, such as using motorcycle helmets.

The government insisted the ban is not aimed at any religion in particular though turbans and the traditional Jewish skull cap are still allowed.

First-time offenders risk a fine of 1,000 kroner (£120). Repeat offences could trigger fines of up to 10,000 kroner (£1,200) or a jail sentence of up to six months.

The UK currently has no law that bans full-face veils.